Feline predator at risk of extinction
A wild cat at risk of extinction, the Iberian Lynx (lynx pardinus) used to populate five regions in Portugal: the Algarve, Serra da Malcata, Serra de São Mamede, Vale do Guadiana and Vale do Sado.
The southern strip of Portugal was the area with the greatest concentration, occupying an area of about 650 square kilometres between the Monchique, Caldeirão and Espinhaço de Cão mountain ranges. Now, there is a move to re-introduce them in Portugal by breeding them in captivity, from animals brought from Spain.
The Iberian Lynx can grow to one metre in length and to a height of 50 cm, and weigh over 15 kg. Its distinguishing features are its yellow-brown pelt with black markings, a short tail with a black tip, pointed ears with tufts of fur at the tip, like paint brushes, and big black and white ruffs around their faces.
In Portugal, the decline of this species started in the 1930s and 1940s, when wheat production reduced its habitat. This accelerated in the 1950s with the fall in the population of the wild rabbit, the extensive plantation of pine and eucalyptus forests, and increase in summer forest fires. These combined threats to their existence, together with death caused by man, led to their extinction in Portugal.
The Lynx Pardinus is today the most endangered of the world’s cat species. Thus, despite Portuguese and European directives which are supposed to protect this species and its habitat, it is everyone’s duty to minimise the risk factors which continue to bring the lynx to the brink of extinction.